Viblast PDN: an innovative P2P solution for live video streaming [2/4]

March 29, 2016

A week ago we posted the introductory article of the Viblast PDN series - Viblast PDN: A different perspective on live video streaming. The purpose of the following text is to examine the issues addressed in it concerning video distribution and live video streaming. In case you have missed it, you can read it here.

The second article of the series will present more information and technical details on our approach to solving live video streaming problems.



What is peer-to-peer (P2P) networking?

Peer-to-peer (P2P) is a distributed network architecture that allows network nodes (peers) to share resources among each other on an application level. The nodes are equally privileged and form a peer-to-peer network.

P2P networks are created by implementing a virtual distributed P2P layer on top of the physical network. The layer is independent from the underlying network.


P2P networks can be used for different purposes:

  • distributed computation of complex problems

  • distributed storage

  • bandwidth capacity optimization

  • and more

What makes the P2P approach effective is that:

  • the centralized resources are offloaded

  • the load is distributed between the peer nodes

  • it is self-scalable


Why do we need to use P2P in video streaming?

As David Hsieh - Cisco’s VP for Marketing and Emerging Technologies - points out in an interview with Beet.TV: “Today over half of all Internet traffic is video - 51 percent. And based on the current trends, we predict that in the next three years over 90 percent of all Internet traffic will be video.”


Nowadays, video streaming faces numerous problems. For example:

  • bandwidth insufficiency

  • last-mile video traffic congestion

  • service outages during viewership peaks

  • and more


There is no doubt that video is, indeed, “invading all aspects of our lives” - as David Hsieh says, - and this automatically means that the resources used in video streaming are in greatest need of optimization.


The optimisation can be performed in different ways:

  • by using optimal encodings so the stream size and the bandwidth capacity can be reduced

  • by using ABR so that there is full control over the quality of the stream and the network load at all times

  • by offloading the centralized streaming resources


We, at Viblast, address the aforementioned problems in video streaming, by using a P2P based advanced technology for delivering high quality video to web and mobile audiences. Viblast PDN (Peer-assisted Delivery Network) is a complete software defined solution which decentralizes the network resources for live video streaming.


What does Viblast PDN do?

  • adds the aforementioned P2P layer to an already existing streaming solution

  • uses no plugins or third-party software thanks to WebRTC

  • needs zero hardware to work

  • cooperates with the client’s initial infrastructure


Thus, the integration of Viblast PDN is efficient and seamless because it excludes the complexity of changing one’s entire network infrastructure while still improving it substantially.


How does Viblast PDN work?

There are two components:

  • Viblast PDN Tracker which helps the peers find each other and assists the P2P delivery

  • Viblast PDN Player which turns the viewer into a P2P node


Every viewer shares part of the stream with other nodes (peers) in the network while watching it. Thus, the CDN is not the only source of the stream.

When a viewer wants to watch a video stream, the player connects to the tracker. Then the tracker returns a list of other peers that can be used as sources of the stream.

Once the peers are connected, they start sharing chunks of the stream among each other.

The stream is delivered in a hybrid mode as the player consumes it both from the central server and from other peers in the network.


Viblast PDN addresses the problems live video streaming faces in three important ways:

  • By offloading the network infrastructure, while relieving last-mile video traffic congestion

  • By offering a naturally scalable shield against service outages during peak hours

  • By maintaining the best video quality and quality of experience (QoE) at all times thanks to ABR support


Who can benefit from Viblast PDN?

There are two very specific scenarios, defining the two groups that can benefit from our solution - broadcasters (OTT video streaming providers) and enterprises.


The problems in the broadcasters case are:

  • bandwidth insufficiency - CDN or streaming server

  • unpredictable viewership spikes

The problems enterprises face are:

  • bandwidth insufficiency - internet or intranet connectivity

  • traffic congestions between different subnets


Since each situation has its own specifics, each requires a different solution, i.e. there is no universal approach.

This is why we have developed two Viblast PDN implementations - respectively, Broadcasters PDN (Viblast bPDN) and Enterprise PDN (Viblast ePDN).


If you want to know how we tackle the problems they face, stay tuned for the other two articles of the Viblast PDN series.

Meanwhile, keep streaming! We will take care of the rest!